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Need advice on how to communicate with another car while traveling in UK

We will be traveling in 2 cars thru out Ireland and Scotland and need to be able to keep in contact with each other. We will have our own smart phones from the USA, but do not want to do only a small international data package. Any ideas on what we should do?
Thanks in advance!

Posted by
7205 posts

"do not want to do only a small international data package..."

1) Purchase an international SIM upon arrival
2) Verizon has a Travel Plan for $10 per day of use - gives you the exact same plan you have in the USA. You only get charged the $10 if you actually use it.

Posted by
5263 posts

Depending on your plan, you may be able to use it overseas by paying an additional fee to your carrier, perhaps weekly or monthly or, as described above, daily when used. Or you may need to buy unlocked quad-band GSM phones (Amazon has many) and SIM cards (before the trip or when you land). Depending on the phones you can use these for voice only or data also. See the info on this website.

Sounds like all you really want is to be able to talk from car to car as you drive, so you don't miss turns or sights, or to help avoid traffic jams. (The second car is the one I'd want to be in.) Should be easy to take care of. But let the passengers do the talking, not the drivers! ;-)

Posted by
5756 posts

Walkie talkies

Probably a REALLY bad idea.

  • Walkie talkies bought in the USA (generally) should not be used overseas. I believe most use frequencies that are reserved for emergency services in many European countries. They're not licensed for use outside the US (yes, such things are regulated, both here and there) and while the chances of getting arrested are small, using them is probably illegal.
  • Walkie talkies have a very short range - OK for your kids in the back yard, but unless the vehicles are right next to each other (and they won't be - trust me, I have some experience with this) you will be out of range quickly.
  • Walkie talkie or cell phone, this sounds like a tremendous distraction and really dangerous. Keep in mind you will be driving in a foreign country, where lots of things are very different: driving on the wrong side of the road, sitting on the wrong side of the car, confusing round-abouts, impossibly narrow streets, a semi-foreign language, signs and other systems that are unfamiliar, etc. Your driver is already going to be stressed out. Yakking on a cell phone while driving even in your own neighborhood is incredibly dangerous (like driving drunk). Doing it in a foreign country where driving is significantly more challenging is really not smart IMHO. "Hang up and drive."


Posted by
489 posts

Thanks for the fast responses.
We will get a limited international data deal with our Verizon, but I'm not sure what the other couple has. We will have 2 cars with one driver and one other navigating.

I wondered about "walkie talkies" but wondered if allowed in UK?

Posted by
5517 posts

Is there going to be more than one person in each car? You don't use data when you text. The question is, will there be someone who is able to read and send texts other than the driver?

I am not familiar with Verizon's plans, but I know when I do ATT Passport, I get the same coverage on texts that I do at home, meaning unlimited texts. I can even send pictures via text without causing any data usage.

Don't confuse text messages with data usage. They are not the same things.

Posted by
2743 posts

If you both have smartphones with an international plan offering affordable calling/texting then I'd go with that. Data is very helpful in general, but it sounds like you just want to be able to call each other to check in? Decide where to stop and eat, that kind of thing? If so then all you need is decent call/text rates. That's separate from data in my experience. Check with your carriers. Many offer international plans with unlimited texting and reduced cost calling, for example.

If you can't find a plan that works for both groups, then I would consider cheap local phones bought there - "burner phones" as they are called in the US. Or local SIM cards if you have phones that will work. That way you both have local numbers, can easily call each other, and don't have to worry about "international" calling, as both phones are UK based. I have not bought such a plan in the UK but I'm sure someone on this forum can help. Often these are available in airports.

Posted by
607 posts

I have used FRS/GMRS radios with a car club when members go on club drives and they work very well for group communications over a few kilometers without any obstructions.

In Europe, you need to use a different standard of radios called Personal Mobile Radio PMR466. No need for a licence. The units look very similar to the North American FRS/GMRS and I imagine that they are similarly low priced and can be bought in any electronics store.

Posted by
934 posts

You can walk in store here and get SIM FREE (unlocked ) phones from £12.
A call package for a month ,no recurring charges, would give you hundreds of UK mins call time , unlmited txt and 1or more GBs data for £10 .

My US cousins,both with phones, thier carrier had horrible charges even on the best packages and billed both the receiving and sending end of a call .